If you’re looking for a good fighting game for Nintendo Switch then Hamster’s ACA Neo Geo games offer plenty of choice. The SNK Neo Geo brand is known for its incredible range of fighters and they’re currently the best fighting experience on Nintendo’s console (although that may soon change with the release of Capcom’s Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection later this year).
Best of the Best
With so many of their fighting games to choose from on the Nintendo Switch eShop from series such as Fatal Fury, World Heroes, Art of Fighting and the King of Fighters it can all get a bit overwhelming for people who aren’t fighting game aficionados. Do your research though, and two games will stand out as being the best – Garou: Mark of the Wolves and The King of Fighters ’98. For people who are relatively inexperienced when it comes to SNK fighters, Garou: Mark of the Wolves is easy to comprehend – it’s a relatively straightforward one-on-one fighting game with a limited range of fighters. It is, in essence, smaller and simpler than The King of Fighters ’98, which can at first seem rather impenetrable.
The King of Fighters is a complicated series with lots of versions although ’98 is considered one of the best. Before choosing a fighter you are forced to choose between ‘Advanced’ and ‘Extra’ modes which will make little sense at first. The character roster is huge and there are many different fighting styles to master. The fact that you only see their faces makes it very difficult to decide which fighter to select (they really should have shown their whole body somewhere on the screen). You only get 30 seconds to decide which fighters to pick and the fact that you have to choose three makes it even more difficult. Some of the names are Japanese and hard to remember like Benimaru Nikaido, Chin Gentsai, Chizuru Kagura etc. Each fight involves you choosing a team of three fighters and you must decide the order in which they will fight. Because this is an arcade game there is no training mode where you can learn how to pull off special moves.
If this all sounds a bit negative or intimidating don’t let that put you off. Because once you get your head around all this The King of Fighters ’98 is a brilliant fighting game and is actually quite easy to get to grips with (particularly for people who are used to Capcom’s Street Fighter series). This guide is designed to explain the basics of the game to help newcomers to the series understand some of it’s more complex features. As someone who is relatively inexperienced with fighters such as this, I’ve written it as a means of getting my own head around the game but I hope others in my position will find it useful. Let’s start with the series itself.
Return of the King
The first game in the series, The King of Fighters ’94 was released in arcades in (you guessed it…) 1994. It was designed to include the most popular characters from all their games – hence the title ‘King of Fighters’. Every year a new version was released, adding new features and different characters. Each new game attempted to follow some sort of storyline but The King of Fighters ’98 was designed to be a ‘best of’ entry which pulled together all the fighters from the previous games into one huge fighting game. As a result, there is no storyline to worry about so just enjoy the fighting action that’s on offer.
All the Right Moves
All characters have the following basic moves:
Move Joy-Con stick left and right to move character. Up = jump and down = duck.
Moving backwards will cause your fighter to block an opponent’s move. Hold ‘down+back’ to block low attacks.
It’s possible to rush forwards or backwards by double tapping the joystick in the direction you want to move.
- Switch X button = strong punch
- Switch Y button = weak punch
- Switch A button = strong kick
- Switch B button = weak kick
Pressing buttons X, Y, A and B whilst ducking or jumping will produce variations of these punches and kicks depending on the character.
That’s the basics covered in terms of moves. Each character also has special moves which I’ll cover later.
The Right Choice
Before selecting your fighters you are asked to choose between ‘Advanced’ and ‘Extra’. When you boot up the game and ‘insert some credits’ the game will play a short video explaining this but it’s still rather baffling for beginners. So what’s the difference?
Advanced mode is slightly more aggressive in play style as, in terms of movement, it allows you to run (double tap joystick in the same direction) and roll (Y+B on Switch) which lets you evade the other fighter. It also allows you to perform up to three super moves or ‘Super Desperation Moves’ to be precise. When you choose this mode you will have a meter at the bottom which fills up when you take or give damage. Once the meter fills you get a green power stock – you can store up to three of these. To use a power stock you need to enter into Max mode by holding down buttons X+Y+B together on Switch. This will then create a green bar which runs down and whilst in Max mode you will deal more damage and you can perform your Super Desperation Move which is different for each character. Desperation moves are special moves which require specific joystick and button inputs. You can search for these online but I will deal with some popular characters and their moves below.
Extra mode affects your movement in that instead of running you dash-step / hop forward a short distance and instead of rolling (Y+B on Switch) you evade but stand still. I really like using the evade move as it lets you subtly side-step an opponent’s attack then quickly follow through with an attack of your own. In Extra mode, you have a power meter at the bottom of your screen which gets filled up as you take damage. You can also charge it by pressing the X, Y and B buttons on the Switch. Once fully charged your character will flash and the word Maximum will display above the meter which will then begin to run down. Whilst the meter is running down your attacks will do more damage and you can perform one Desperation Move. After each fighter is lost your power gauge will shorten, making it quicker to reach Maximum – this is an attempt to help balance the fight and give the losing player a slight advantage. In addition, when your health reaches 20% or less, your life meter will flash red and you’ll be able to perform desperation moves at will. This is therefore a good mode to get you out of a tight spot if you’re taking a beating.
My personal preference is Extra mode but it’s worth experimenting with both and seeing which you prefer. If this is all a bit too much to get your head around then just don’t worry about which mode you choose!
Best of Enemies
Believe it or not, your choice of characters in a team actually has an impact on the game as some get on well together and will help their team, whilst others won’t. When selecting the order of your team press the R button on the Switch and you will see one of three faces by your characters:
- Red faces are angry and mean the fighter will never jump out to help you and will lose a power stock when defeated.
- White faces are neutral and won’t affect your game.
- A yellow face means the fighter is happy to be put on that team. The fighter will add one power stock to your meter when they are defeated and they will also jump in to help out when you are in a grab or dizzy.
You may want to factor all this into the order you put your fighters (ie happy first and angry last). Try to find a combination of characters that are happy to be in a team together for maximum impact. Note that the mood of characters changes!
These are three great characters to start off with as they have fairly basic moves. You can change your characters outfit on the selection screen depending on what button you press to select them (A, B, X or Y).
1. Terry Bogard
Terry is the main character from SNK’s Fatal Fury series and is stereotypically American. He uses a mixture of martial arts which makes him a nice all-rounder and is, therefore, a good starting fighter. These are some of his moves that beginners can try out – fans of Street Fighter II who are familiar with Ken and Ryu will feel right at home here. Buttons relate to those on Nintendo Switch. These are some of his easier moves:
- (Quarter circle motion) down then back + punch = power knuckle
- (Quarter circle motion) down then forward + punch = power wave
- (Z motion) forward then down then down-forward + punch = rising tackle
- (Quarter circle motion) down then back + kick = crack shoot
- (Half circle motion) back then down then forward + kick = power charge
- (Z motion) forward then down then down-forward + kick = power dunk
- (Quarter circle motion) down then forward; (quarter circle motion) down then forward + kick = high-angle geyser
2. Athena Asamiya
Another fighter who is easy to get to grips with is Athena. She originates from two old SNK games called Psycho Soldier and Athena and she is one of the fan’s favourite fighters in the King of Fighters series. She developed psychic powers at a young age and isn’t afraid to use them on her enemies. She’s a bit trickier to use as some of her specials need to be used whilst she’s jumping in the air but I love the way she can teleport around the screen and throw psycho balls at opponents. These are some easier moves to pull off:
- (Quarter circle motion) down then back + punch = psycho ball
- (Half circle motion) back then down then forward + punch = psychic throw
- (Z motion) forward then down then down-forward + punch = psycho sword
- In air (quarter circle motion) down then back + kick = phoenix arrow
- (Quarter circle motion) forward then kick = psychic teleport
- (Half circle motion) forward then down then back + kick = psycho reflector
- In air (quarter circle motion) down then forward; (quarter circle motion) down then forward + kick = phoenix fang arrow
3. Billy Kane
Londoner Billy is another Fatal Fury character and is the right-hand man of crime lord Geese Howard. He fights with a staff and is therefore useful for long-range attacks. He’s really easy to use and with a bit of practice can make you look like a pro! These are some of his easier moves:
- Tap Y rapidly = repeatedly stabs your staff at a long range
- Tap X rapidly = spins your staff round and round
- (Quarter circle motion) down then forward + kick = jump kick
- (Z motion) forward then down then down-forward + punch = jumping spinning staff
- (Z motion) forward then down then down-forward + kick; move forward or back = pole vault kick
- (Quarter circle motion) down then forward; (quarter circle motion) down then forward + punch = massive swing of your staff
You may want to write these down on a pad of paper and practice each one over and over during fights to learn them. Then try out some different characters and you’ll probably find that these moves pull off similar specials.
Some of my other favourite characters include resident sex-bomb Mai Shiranui (who has some very impressive assets) and basketballer Lucky Glauber who can throw basketballs at his opponent.
Start by finding three characters you like who are relatively easy to use and practice playing with them as a team. The moves are all pretty similar so you can get by with a bit of trial and error and soon enough you will pick it up. If you want to make it easier to learn their moves you can actually go into the game’s options and then select ‘game settings’ and change the game mode from ‘Team’ to ‘Single 1’ which will allow you to just play with one character. I think it’s more fun to play with three as a team though so after a bit of 1 player practice I recommend switching back to the team mode.
Some other cool features of the Nintendo Switch version include graphical filters to add scan lines for that authentic arcade experience, and the ability to widen the screen slightly without distorting the graphics. As is standard with Hamster’s ACA Neo Geo games you can choose between Japanese and English versions of the game and there’s also a high score mode (featuring online high score tables) and a caravan mode in which you have to get the highest score within a time limit.
If you’re at all serious about playing a fighting game such as this then you really need to invest in an arcade fight stick. The Joy-Con controls are OK for messing about on the bus but it’s seriously difficult to pull off some of these button and joystick combinations without a proper stick. Pressing X+Y+B together to charge up in Extra mode is simply impossible!
There are currently two popular arcade fight sticks available for Nintendo Switch. The best option is the official HORI Nintendo Switch Real Arcade Pro V Hayabusa Fight Stick. This stick costs around £112 from Amazon UK and is worth every penny.It’s very good quality with a fluid stick and responsive buttons. The only slight disadvantage of this stick is that it has to be plugged in via USB but that is standard for high-end sticks to ensure no input lag. You can purchase a little USB-C to USB-A adapter to plug the stick directly into the Switch if you want to play in portable mode.
If you’re on a cheaper budget then the 8Bitdo N30 Arcade Stick may be worth considering. It connects to the Switch wirelessly. This costs around £65 from Amazon UK but it is a far inferior product to the HORI and if you can afford it I’d recommend you go for the better arcade stick.
Once you master the basics you will quickly realise that this is a HUGE game with so much potential and you could spend countless hours practising and perfecting moves and combos. There are some fantastic characters to discover and the fighting mechanics are really satisfying when it all clicks. It’s easy to see why the game has so many fans around the world and is considered one of the best fighting games ever. I hope you found this beginners’ guide easy to follow and that you also enjoy playing this wonderful game on Nintendo Switch.